Fultz Diagnosis Brings Motorcycle Injury Back Into Question

Markelle Fultz

Getty Markelle Fultz on the bench with his Sixers teammates.

It was confirmed today that oft-scrutinized second-year player Markelle Fultz will be out indefinitely with an injury. The injury has been revealed as being Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, an ailment that affects nerves between the neck and shoulder that severely affects a person’s range of motion and functional movement.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was among the very first to break the news, and says that the injury is treatable by physical therapy.

Fultz’s Injury may be the Result of a 2017 Motorcycle Accident

Though the significance of it in regards to the injury has been denied by Fultz and other spokespeople, Fultz was involved in a 2017 motorcycle accident that may have affected the shoulder he’s been struggling with all season.

A little research into Fultz’s recent diagnosis reveals a somewhat-incriminating fact, given that the player could face legal implications if the motorcycle story proves true. According to Mayoclinic.org, the injury can be caused by physical trauma, say, like the trauma experienced in a motor vehicle accident, especially a motorcycle. It can also be caused by repetitive sports (or job-related) injuries, pregnancy, or “certain anatomical defects (such as having an extra rib).”

According to Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann, in regards to the motorcycle accident and speculation about whether it’s to thank for Fultz’s current shoulder woes, “If such speculation is true and if the injury occurred after Fultz signed with the 76ers on July 8, 2017, the 76ers would arguably have grounds to suspend Fultz or even void his contract.”

It makes sense, therefore, that The Athletic recently reported that “at the direction of his attorney,” Fultz would no longer participate in team practices or games until after a shoulder specialist had evaluated and cleared him.

McCann continued, in that same SI article:

“Aldridge’s reference to Fultz’s “attorney” is revealing because the attorney, Raymond Brothers, doubles as Fultz’s agent. Aldridge’s depiction of Brothers as Fultz’s “attorney” instead of as his “agent” is intentional. 1. It signals that Brothers and Fultz regard the situation as one that could have legal implications.

The question then becomes why a visit to a shoulder specialist—by itself, an unremarkable development—might trigger legal consequences.”

Fultz’s Future is Uncertain as Ever

With this latest news, Markelle Fultz’s once-promising career in the NBA is more uncertain than ever. Hopefully the physical therapy he’s scheduled to attend will fix him up, and he’ll return to the Sixers in the expected 3-6 week time period. It’s possible that he may need surgery–which would obviously prolong the recovery–but as of now it hasn’t been reported as being a necessity.

That being said, there are a few more things that could throw a stick in the spokes of the career Fultz is trying to save.

1. If there’s further investigation into the 2017 motorcycle accident, and it’s proven that Fultz breached his contract, he could be dropped altogether, healthy or not.

2. With all the physical and psychological trauma he’s endured these past few months, much of the league has lost faith in Fultz. More importantly, it seems he may have lost confidence in himself. A comeback would be legendary, but it’s just as likely that Fultz will never be able to bounce back from the struggles he’s been slogging through so far this season.

He’ll likely need to retrain himself to shoot, too. Especially since he’s been unable to do so normally for such a long time.

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